I’m writing this piece with my husband in mind, not to challenge him, but to challenge the issue of the stigma of mental illness wrapped tightly in a blanket of shame and the ownership of that blanket.
For those who have been sentenced with this illness it is hard enough trying to pick up the pieces after a psychotic episode, let alone face the judgement of the world in our bare state of mind: vulnerable to the sting of any harsh comment. But what if you’re ready to tell the world, “Screw you! I suffer from a mental illness and I can function.” and your supporter may not share the same excitement? What if they harbour a similar shame; maybe a shame that disguises itself as concern for your well-being when you come out? Or maybe it’s a shame attached to them in that they’re scared to be associacted with a psychopath; well, okay, not psychopath, but someone who is not always in control and needs to be medicated?
Is this not my bipolar and my shame? Or are you sharing your illness with your supporter, so much so, that it’s a joint account of events and eruption of emotions? Am I selfish in wanting to tell the world that I’m an activist; or a wannabe activist and not consult with the person who saves me from myself ever so often?
Do you need permission to tell the world, if the illness runs through your veins, not theirs?
I carry the burden. I carry the bipolar. But I also see his fear when I’m not all there. When I’m gone, and all he has is, a monster.